“Second Witness”

Article courtesy of Dannielle Konz of Creative Writing Club

“P-please come in,” stuttered Bob, knowing exactly why the police wanted to talk to him. “I didn’t kill that man, I promise.”

“We know you didn’t,” reassured Junior Detective Fendson, in a tone that was not all reassuring.

“We just have some questions for you. Can you tell us about what happened?” Detective Fredrickson asked, shooting Detective Fendson a look that told him to change his tone.

Bob nodded, slowly sinking into a chair in the living room. The detectives followed suit on an ugly pastel couch across from him. Bob took a deep breath, glancing up at the ceiling as though it would tell him just where to start.

“I was driving down the street, making my usual rounds, when my brakes stopped working,” he began slowly, “I admit, I often drive a little faster than the recommended speed limit…okay, sometimes a lot faster. But it’s only old people who live in this neighborhood, so I usually try to get through it quickly to get over to the streets with kids where I know I can get business. Old people don’t tend to buy ice cream from me, you know. I mean, there’s this one lady who sometimes does when it’s hot out, but she’s a cranky old woman so I try not to—”

“You said your brakes gave out?” Detective Fredrickson interrupted, trying to bring the boy back to the discussion at hand.

“Oh yeah, sorry. They stopped working, so when I was coming around the corner, I was going too fast. I reached down because I thought there might be something jammed beneath the pedal and I looked up just in time to see that guy. I didn’t have time to swerve away and he didn’t even seem to notice me. There actually was something under the brake pedal. An old soda can, I think. But when I finally got the brakes working again, the guy was still there, on the front of my truck.”

“Why didn’t you file a report about the incident?” Fendson asked accusingly.

“The guy was fine,” Bob claimed incredulously, “I got out of the car and apologized to him over and over but he just waved me off. He was bleeding a little bit on one of his arms and I offered to take him to the hospital or his house or something, but he said he was fine. He just walked away. There was something really weird about the guy, though.”

“Apart from the fact that he got hit straight on by a truck and walked away with only a few scratches?” said Detective Fendson, snorting out a laugh. He earned another sharp look from Detective Fredrickson.

“Yeah,” Bob answered, ignoring the laugh, “he was walking funny. Kinda like he was drunk or high or something. And he slurred his words when he talked. I don’t know why he was acting that way, but the guy definitely wasn’t right.”

“Probably rat poison. Poor guy,” sighed Fredrickson.

“Rat poison?” Bob asked, confused.

The detectives ignored the question. Instead, Fendson asked, “Do you know where Mr. Phell went after that?”

“Nope,” Bob shrugged. “He said he was fine and that he didn’t need any help so he just kept walking. No idea where he was walking to, but I had business to get to so I went on my way and forgot all about him until you came knocking at my door just now asking about it.”

The detectives rose from the couch and went to leave.

“Thank you, Bob.” Said Detective Fredrickson. “You’ve been…well…thanks.”

The two men left, no closer to solving the mystery of Phillip Phell’s death than they were when they entered the house.

“Well, at least we now know where his scratches came from,” Detective Fendson said, trying to remain positive in the face of frustration on their wild goose chase.

“I want to check in with Mr. Phell’s roommates,” Detective Fredrickson suggested. “If they were around when his horrible day began, perhaps they can fill in some missing pieces for us.”